{ pure gold }

 
     

It must have been more than 50 years ago.

I was a newbie meditator and yogini when my teacher threw this curved ball:

“Pray for disappointment.
Disappointment is the highest teacher.”

Gulp.  I thought I was signing up for Transcendence 101, not some advanced course in self-mortification.  Please explain, I asked, and she did:

Disappointment will unpick your stories.

It will shatter your certitudes.

It will strip you of hope.

It will lead you to the other side of the assumptions you unknowingly live by. 

(It will be a huge shock to realise that the only free and true choice you can ever make is to stop, shut up, listen and open.)

If you can live with its inevitability, it will deliver you to unbreakable peace and equanimity.  You will understand the real meaning of trust and you will make impermanence your touchstone.  

No fatalism or nihilism involved – no ‘isms’ whatsoever.  
No ideology, therapy or frantic god-bothering required.

 

{ pure gold }

 

Well, as it happened, she was right.

Did I ever offer up a prayer of invitation to disappointment?  
Not that I recall, but I’ve always been a bit contrary, and I was definitely curious.

Everyone was hunting for the enlightenment cookie via his or her own tendencies and patterns – I guess I was too.  In hindsight it’s clear that my fierce wild-maned Cincinnati yoga teacher (who was managing my return to mobility after having my right leg leg severed in an accident) was introducing me to the Via Negativa,
to the ancient Vedic Neti Neti inquiry.

And so far as the gods of disappointment were concerned,
my ingenuous curiosity was enough to catch their attention.  

Off I went, from one knee-grazer to the next.

Sometimes they served up the prompt in the midst of the mishap, accident, heartache, bust-up, betrayal, rejection.  Sometimes it would show up in the aftermath.  But it never failed to arrive, scribbled in gold on the back of an increasingly tattered calling card:

 

What knows this,

ceaselessly, inescapably, 

while remaining entirely unaffected?

 

a h h h h h . . .

s y s t e m – r e s t o r e

 

{ pure gold }

 

I bow before disappointment’s wild grace.

 

Speaking personally, mls.


Notes:

Sometimes a poem calls forth an image; sometimes an image elicits a poem.  I’ve been keeping company with this Kintsugi sculpture by Billie Bond for a while, waiting to see if words might line themselves up in response to its powerful eloquence.  What showed up surprised me.  While I have been blessed with untold good fortune, generosity and joy in my life, I confess that it was the unspeakably harrowing experiences that opened up intimacy with the entire field of experience.  So I’m posting this in case it matches the shape of a wound that needs loving attention.  We all have them. And we are the world.

From September 18, 2013: a love letter to disappointment

Sculpture:
Billie Bond, Kintsugi Head 1, 2014
H32 W22 D15
Black stoneware, resin, epoxy, gold leaf
Unique
http://www.billiebondart.com/kintsugi-sculpture.html

Kintsugi – “golden joinery” also known as Kintsukuroi – “golden repair”, is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with lacquer mixed with powdered gold.  As a philosophy it sees beauty in imperfection; it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.


my tuppence-worth

One of my father’s nick-names for me was ‘Tuppence.’  Perhaps it was because I was always eager to offer my “tuppence-worth” (i.e., the state-of-the-world according to my all-knowing self), and irritatingly persistent with my questions – “But why?” “Who says so?”  When he was really mad at me he’d say, “For two pence I’d give you the hiding of your life!”  I was always relieved no one came along with those pennies.

I never out-grew the tendency towards contrariness and insatiable curiosity.  From here I regard them as having been essential companions – both tools and fuel – on the rather erratic life path that unfolded for the ‘Tuppence’ character.

The days when I held court in my pram are ancient history, but the questions that matter for me remain fresh and alive.  My responses to them are an ever-morphing ontology.  Here’s the current version – a crone’s tuppence-worth.

 

Tuppence (Miriam Louisa)

Tuppence in her pram: Well then. What’s this all about?

 

What does the “God” word mean for you?

The Unknowable

dressed up and dancing as the knowable.

Is Consciousness all there is?

I don’t know.

I can only say it’s all I ever experience.

But what knows the contents of Consciousness?

You’ll never find it.

(You’ll never escape it either.)

What is “enlightenment”?

An idea those who believe they are not already fully alight

like to entertain.

“Already fully alight” – how can one know that?

It can’t be known.

It’s quietly evident when all hunger for knowing drops away.

Can there be a partial or ‘damaging’ awakening?

Presence is already perfectly and completely just so.

But ideas about it can be experienced as wrong/bad/incomplete.

The sages say the observer is the observed. How is that so?

I’ve spent a lifetime on this koan…

I only ever experience all-inclusive observing.

Is there an Almighty God?

Too constricted and limited a notion, I’d say.

How about an Unlimited and Almighty Godding?

Is it true there’s “only One”?

From the perspective of Presence,

One is one too many.

Is there a purpose to life?

I ask Life. It grins:

Get onstage – it’s The Full Monty and you’re the star!

What is death?

That’s easy because I’ve been across and had a look.

It’s a little side-step, from one theatre into another.

Is it true that thoughts create reality?

Reality transcends thinking entirely.

However, thoughts and beliefs determine the quality of experience.

Is life a dream?

Maybe.

We’d know if we could find a dreamer.

What is surrender?

Abdication. Effortless, voluntary relinquishment

of the ME-project.

Is the world an illusion?

If it is

you’re the magician.

What’s the difference between illusion and delusion?

Illusion is the mirage in the desert;

delusion is believing it’s real.

Is there anything sacred?

Nothing knowable

could ever be sacred.

Is it true that “I am That?”

No.

You are the glorious “am”.

Are there any true concepts?

I don’t know

any.

Is there any valid aspiration / intention?

Yes.

K I N D N E S S

What is freedom?

Being 100% present as the capacity for passionate engagement with life

and not minding what happens.

What brings your greatest fulfilment?

Nothing ever brings fulfilment.

It’s one’s natural state when there’s no need of fulfilment.

And your deepest peace?

S I L E N C E

(no contest)

Do you have any plans?

The GPS is set to nth – now! this! here!

Presence is driving.

What is Grace?

The Beloved

sneaking up for a kiss.

What are you?

I am whatever Presence wants to be

in response to whatever It meets.

 


[The words Awareness, Presence, the Unknowable, Reality, Grace, the Beloved, all point to the same ‘thing’. Except it’s not a thing. If anything (ha!) it’s an event-ing.
I like the Godding word; I might patent that one!]


early this morning

 

Miriam Louisa Simons - Stained Glass Morning, Missa Gaia Series

 

p e a c e

palpable as the presence of a Presence

yet utterly ineffable

a benediction without diction

beyond the grope of thought

a blessedness without symbol

not experienced as other but

immanent

– inescapably so –

oh!

 

silence

 

immaculate all-adoring silence

 


Image: Miriam Louisa Simons – detail, Stained Glass Morning
Missa Gaia Series,
1987-88. Painting on silk, stitching.
Private Collection, Auckland New Zealand

wonderingmind studio


tough love

Tough Love? Because most readers will find the contents of this post confronts their comfort-zone. Like happened here when I first encountered these notions. I won’t be surprised if you unfollow this blog, but I’d nonetheless love to think that you’ll take a look for yourself. For yourself. For. Yourself.

faith and hope

 

When you open your newsfeed and scroll through the week’s latest instalment of tragedy and brutality, you are observing the carnage wrought by faith and hope.

Faith and hope are two words sagely trotted out by both traditional and new age purveyors of fixes for the human condition. They feature large in the Christian Bible, and slip easily off our politicians’ tongues at times of crisis. “Only have faith!” “Defend the faith!” “Trust (have faith in) our democratic processes!” “Hope is our salvation …”

We are warned about “losing faith” or “losing hope” as though such absence will lead us to the top of a slippery slope and the inevitable descent into despair.

My teachers were strict. They demanded that every word employed be fully understood in all its implications. They would incisively question words that fed the illusion of separation, or that implied a ‘self’ solid and separate from the all-containing movement of creation. They had no time for those who counselled one to have faith, to hope, or to trust, because each of these positions betrays a desire for a self-satisfying outcome, a result that will bring relief, comfort, security or improvement in the life of the supplicant – or in the world they perceive to be faulty. They pointed out that these words, and others like time, need and want, are just more names for the illusory self, which is the root cause of all violence and suffering. They dismissed those who enthused about the merits of such attitudes with ruthless compassion: “Please come back when you want nothing but the Real.”

And I have grokked this so deeply it actually hurts my heart to hear people tell themselves they only need more faith or hope or trust (or compassion or understanding, or even time) to embody “the peace that passeth all understanding”, when it is the very abandonment of these notions that will throw them into a ‘me’-shattering, heart-melting intimacy with Life. An intimacy that makes future outcomes irrelevant, for the future is seen to be as illusory as the present (a dreaming streaming of perceptions, imagination, and ceaseless commentary); an intimacy that brings the mind unconditional peace and rest.

Let’s get the crucial questions lined up and check them out for ourselves:

Where can the one who needs to have faith (in any ideology) and hope (in any imagined outcome) be found? Be very precise. Where is the world to be found? Again – precision please. Where are disharmony, violence and tragedy to be found?

If you suggest they are all in the mind, tell me, where is one’s mind to be found?

If you can locate any of these, or anything else, outside of your fundamental awareness, you’ll be the first in the entire history of humanity to do so. And you’ll be wrong, because no matter where you stick the pin, it will still be a gesture occurring exclusively in the awareness that you are.

Gertrude Stein put it pithily: “There is no there there.”

If there is no place or time, or me or them, apart from the awareing of them, what does that do to ‘our relationship’ with the streaming shimmering dance we call world? Does it even make sense to speak of ‘relationship’ (which again implies separation), or is there only the streaming shimmering dance, dancing?

What are the implications of that mindshift?

Where is the brutality? The tragedy? The heroism? The suffering? It is nowhere but here, and it is all ours; it is all us – busily entertaining robotic thoughts and believing them to be real.

On the other side of faith and hope there’s a spaciousness that knows exactly how to respond to anything it meets with intense appropriateness. It’s a movement without a centre – without a trace of conditioning, without the burden of memory. We have all experienced it.

Let us rest in that spacious stillness, alert and awake, and see what Life will do with us. It might be something shocking, something we’d never imagine for ourselves. That will be a good indication of its authenticity.

I’ll meet you there.
 


 

In a similar vein, something I wrote in 2009 on ‘this unlit light’ blog:

the universe arises in your light

 


 

I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men’s hands
even at the height of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound.

– Hafiz

 


nothin’ left to lose …

I’ve had an encounter with an ear worm. You know, those catchy tunes that keep playing in your mind ad nauseam.

It’s amazing the lengths tic-toc thinking will go to, to ensure some activity is going on. I’ve found the only effective antidote to be a kind of meditation where you just plonk yourself down (or not) and cast attention in the worm’s direction without any intention to “stop” it. Brain worms loathe the light of attention.

This worm was fun (for a while), as my mind played with the lyrics. I jotted a couple down before returning the wriggler to sender, from whence it has failed to return. Maybe it’s back in Janis’s pocket…

 

Janis Joplin, 1970

“Freedom’s just another word
for nothin’ left to lose.”*

Love is just another word
for when you disappear.

 

Peace is just another word
for right and wrong conjoined.

 

Heaven‘s just another word
for no one left to choose.

 

More stanzas on the nondual theme, anyone?

 

[Later – they just keep coming… ]

 

Me is just another word
for God knowing Itself.

 

Joy is just another word
for thankfulness enthused.

 

Praise is just another word
for wonderment expressed.

 

God is just another word
for What’s beyond all words.

. . .


* Lyrics from Me and Bobby McGee, by Kris Kristofferson


Image: Janis Joplin, whose version of this song was her only number one hit. It was included in the album Pearl, 1970. Source: Wikimedia Commons


 

lessons from the lifeboat

 

Echoes from Emptiness - Lessons from the Lifeboat

 

Seventy years on and still floating along. This morning’s sit sent me scrambling for my pencil and here’s what downloaded – a list of seven treasured wisdoms the old girl has learnt (so far…)

 

peace

is this rock-solid, inescapable

aware-ing

 

contentment

is simply the end of seeking

salvation

 

separation

is a story without verifiable

substance

 

suffering

is an argument with Life’s

thusness

 

compassion

is meeting Life’s thusness without

a story

 

joy

is unbridled delight at Life’s endless

wonderment

 

grace

is the gift of this unshakeable

understanding

 


Image source


please don’t lie to me

 

Echoes from Emptiness: Please don't lie to me....

 

please

don’t tell me you don’t know
exactly WHAT you are

(that you ARE the peace and sweet release
you seek)

. . .

I know you’ve looked;
you’ve seen, you’ve conceded
that
– nothing you know
–  nothing you think
–  nothing you feel
– nothing you remember
– nothing you experience
can be what you are

since

– all these phenomena
–  all these perceptions
– all these peculiarities

come and go

yet

your bright alive Knowingness remains

. . .

Beloved – even your pain
your suffering, your grief,
rise and fall –
you’ve seen how they wither
(along with your hubris)
when you drop out of your story
and into mind-fucking
immeasurable
timelessness
that never changes

don’t tell me you haven’t yet fallen
back/forward/down/across/into
THIS
that can’t be known
or experienced

don’t lie to me, Beloved

I don’t believe you

. . .